Frank Miller’s Reactionary Chic

Last fall Frank Miller unloaded a rant on the OWS movement.  Miller’s commentary amounts to a collection of standard clichés you have heard a million times.  They are the type of rants one expects to hear from a racist relative or a republican co-worker or from Fox News.  The rant succeeds in making Miller look nasty and out of touch.  The main idea of the rant is that OWS is not a legitimate movement, and that making war on Islam is what matters.  Miller is, of course, the writer of some extremely influential graphic novels/comics, which have been reproduced on the big screen.  His work includes the Dark Knight Batman, Sin Cityand 300.  Once you read the rant it is hard not to question Miller’s art.  For example, 300 already appeared to be a grossly simplified tale that espoused Spartan warrior virtue over those pantywaisted Athenians, history be damned.  If all you know about Greek history is 300, then you probably believe that Athenian pussies never would have been able to incubate democracy, science, literature and philosophy were it not for those Spartan beefcakes.  In other words, everything that is good about modern life rests on the muscled shoulders of Spartan studs.  Miller’s version of history is defeated within minutes of an armchair historian’s first google search on the subject.  See here.

Enough about 300, here is Miller’s November 7, 2011 post, entitled Anarchy.  Read the fevered rant for yourself:

Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense:

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached – is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find.

Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy.

Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism.

And this enemy of mine — not of yours, apparently – must be getting a dark chuckle, if not an outright horselaugh – out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle.

In the name of decency, go home to your parents, you losers. Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft.

Or better yet, enlist for the real thing. Maybe our military could whip some of you into shape.

They might not let you babies keep your iPhones, though. Try to soldier on.



So, that was Miller’s audition to get onto FOX News.  To anyone that has been paying attention to recent history, Miller’s rant couldn’t be more detached from reality.  Miller prefers to cast his characters, however flawed, in righteous battles against ultra-evil boogeyman.  A Frank Miller narrative collapses if you fail to believe that the flawed protaganist has a good reason for killing everything in sight.  In the non-fiction world of 2011, Miller placed himself on the side of society that includes Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, Edward Conard, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, the Koch brothers, Oliver North, Grover Norquist, and the rest of the deeply uncool collection of bastards that run the rightwing policy and PR shop.  If Miller’s non-fiction world translates at all into fiction, then are we to believe that Oliver North was really a flawed and misunderstood superhero in Miller’s version?

While Miller’s plots depend on a clear distinction between good and evil even while his characters brood and struggle with their own imperfections, there can be no doubt that Batman, Leonidas and Detective Hartigan are killing for understandable reasons.  Miller’s material would be almost pure evil if the readers didn’t believe the deeply flawed protagonist still had a plan to obtain a measure of justice.  With this rant, it calls into question who Frank Miller’s protagonists really are.  After reading Frank Miller’s rant you might believe that he’d take the side of Goldman Sachs executive Lloyd Blankfein’s when Blankfein claims to be doing “God’s work.”  Here is some writing from Business Insider about Blankfein:

“We’re very important,” Blankfein is quoted as saying in The Times of London. “We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

He goes on to admit to being the focus of public outrage–“I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer”–but then blows the attempt to reconciliation by saying he is “doing God’s work.”

Lloyd  Blankefein appears ready to join a casting call for 300.  Frank Miller might give him the part.

Frank Miller’s rant also recalled the 60’s in a funny way.  In the 60’s social change started to happen so quickly that cool people could be transformed into has-beens almost literally within months.  In the JFK-60’s the rat pack was cool.  By the end of the 60’s the rat pack was part of the very uncool ‘establishment’.  For those liberals who tried to keep up with the times, Tom Wolfe raked them over the coals in an essay, “Radical Chic, That Party at Lenny’s.”  The essay took aim at the hypocrisy of well-heeled society flirting with hardcore radicalism.  It was clear that the goals of jet-setters and Black Panthers were not completely entwined and to Tom Wolfe and many readers Leonard Bernstein appeared totally insincere and foolish by hosting Black Panthers at a penthouse party.

The OWS, especially in 2011, was causing this sort of rapid transformation and disruption.  Stephen Colbert is definitely cool enough to keep up with the times, but Frank Miller looks like a cranky, modern version of Archie Bunker.  Frank Miller’s sneering reaction to OWS is so contemptuous that it does not manage to address any substantive points.  He calls the protester rapists, louts and other mean names, and then points how comfortable their lives are, and then finishes with the time-honored insult to hippies of telling them to get a job.  It is all fine if Miller wants to sit in his Archie Bunker chair and not bother us with his dark brooding characters who are probably imagined by Miller to have the moral fiber of a Lloyd Blankfein.   Anyway here is a final blast at Miller’s rant taken by none other than Alan Moore:

“Well, Frank Miller is someone whose work I’ve barely looked at for the past twenty years. I thought the Sin City stuff was nreconstructed misogyny, 300 appeared to be wildly ahistoric, homophobic and just completely misguided. I think that there has probably been a rather unpleasant sensibility apparent in Frank Miller’s work for quite a long time. Since I don’t have anything to do with the comics industry, I don’t have anything to do with the people in it. I heard about the latest outpourings regarding the Occupy movement. It’s about what I’d expect from him. It’s always seemed to me that the majority of the comics field, if you had to place them politically, you’d have to say centre-right. That would be as far towards the liberal end of the spectrum as they would go. I’ve never been in any way, I don’t even know if I’m centre-left. I’ve been outspoken about that since the beginning of my career. So yes I think it would be fair to say that me and Frank Miller have diametrically opposing views upon all sorts of things, but certainly upon the Occupy movement.

“As far as I can see, the Occupy movement is just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs. I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it; they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.”


Menu for Inequality

Inequality in the U.S. is real and it is growing.  To discuss inequality is to open yourself up to charges of envy and class warfare.  Inequality has many defenders and many reside at the upper reaches of the income world.  The above chart shows the 1 percent and then the 1 percent of the 1 percent.  It is worth asking how much deference should be accorded to the already ultra-wealthy and ultra-powerful while the future of Social Security is placed in jeopardy, the middle class continues to asphyxiate, education costs skyrocket and governments slash more and more services.

To hear some people tell it, we should not only be grateful to the super-wealthy, but the government should work hard to increase the rewards of wealth.  A recent article about Edward Conard, who is planning to publish a book, Unintended Consequences, finally makes the overdue argument that there isn’t enough inequality in the United States.  Edward Conard was a colleague of Mitt Romney’s at Bain Capital, and a campaign contributor.  Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article to help get a sense of these fellows.

Conard and Romney certainly share views on numerous policy matters. Like many Republicans, they promote lower taxes and less regulation for those who achieve financial success. Romney has also said that rising inequality is not a problem and that the attention paid to the issue is “about envy. I think it’s about class warfare.” The differences between these two men are also striking. Romney’s economic platform and his record as the governor of Massachusetts suggest that he is more of a centrist than Conard. Romney wants to eliminate capital-gains taxes for people earning less than $200,000 a year but keep them in place for the 1 percent, which Conard says is a good start but doesn’t go far enough.

The biggest difference is that Romney is running for president and needs more people to like him. Conard doesn’t have to worry about that. “People get very angry before they change their mind,” he said. “Economics is counterintuitive. It just is.” I told him that surely is true, but his ideas are counterintuitive even to people well versed in economics. After we spoke for one of the last times, he sent me an e-mail summing up his argument: At base, having a small elite with vast wealth is good for the poor and middle class. “From my perspective,” he wrote, “it’s not a close call.”

Here is a description of Conard’s push to get the word about the wonders of inequality:

 Unlike his former colleagues, Conard wants to have an open conversation about wealth. He has spent the last four years writing a book that he hopes will forever change the way we view the superrich’s role in our society. “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong,” to be published in hardcover next month by Portfolio, aggressively argues that the enormous and growing income inequality in the United States is not a sign that the system is rigged. On the contrary, Conard writes, it is a sign that our economy is working. And if we had a little more of it, then everyone, particularly the 99 percent, would be better off. This could be the most hated book of the year.

The article goes on to explain that Conard is a brainy sort of fellow who commands respect in academia, although it also points out Conard’s mean streak.  Inequality really doesn’t work without nastiness.  The theorists and apologists of inequality rarely fail to exhibit some nasty streak.  Perhaps it is because when inequality reaches a certain point it requires nastiness to enforce it.  People being shed from the middle class into status of greater insecurity do not always feel grateful to the genius of the wealthy elite.  There is always enforcement of the inequality.

Sean Hannity is a great example of the need to put people in their place.  Here and here you can read an analysis of his recent radio show comments about how good the poor in the USA have it and how easy it is for them to fill up on cheap eats.  Here is some transcription of his statement from Newshounds:

I never went to bed hungry in my life… Most Americans haven’t. … I have friends of mine that eat rice and beans all the time. Beans – protein – rice. Inexpensive. You can make a big pot of this for a week for relatively negligible amounts of money for your whole family and feed your family.

Look, you should have vegetables and fruit in there as well, but, you know, if you need to survive, you can survive off it. It’s not ideal –  you know, you can get some cheap meat and throw in there as well for protein. There are ways to live really, really cheaply.

So, you see, survival is good enough for America.  Think about how shabby and nasty Hannity’s vision of America is.  It is a party for him and his buddies like Ed Conard, but if you complain that maybe, just maybe, Hannity and Conard are getting too much pie, then you are an envious “art-history” student who should eat your beans and rice and shut-up.

Nothing against beans and rice, but didn’t conservative used to be contemptuous of Cubans for having to frequently eat this meal?  “Patriotic” flag draped conservatives are fine with subsistence eating for the masses.  They have a fancy philosophy to justify their fantastic wealth and the nastiness to make it work.  It is a real shame that these guys get a gold plated platform to spout their shabby ideas.

ride free

metro seattle is ending the ride free area in september.
a driver explained it to me today.

the businesses that subsidized the idea in the first place have decided to stop funding the service.

ostensibly the business owners associations are not seeing a return on their investment.
or perhaps tired of homeless people using the service but not shopping with their dollars going into registers and their cards being swiped.
some of those homeless people might not even have credit cards.
unthinkable to the businesses, i guess.

well, i wish seattle would continue to give the very poor just a small helping hand by allowing citizens to take a bus for free in the small downtown core.

the people who would abolish this ride free zone should have a hard time sleeping at night thinking about all those who will be drastically affected, but, of course, the committee members won’t meet these needy people at their cocktail parties.

just leave the ride free area.

kanye west

kanye west is a clown, but that moment when mike myers turned into a deer caught in headlights is priceless. probably one of my top ten media moments of all time. myers’ face reacts so quickly, and with such emotional recoil. as though he has been punched in the abdomen by a ghost. then he looks around like the place is on fire.
if you haven’t watched it in a while, i recommend that you give it a spin again.

so i gotta hand it to the clown of rap this time.

otherwise i agree with bush and obama that west is a total jackass.